Book Review: Bourbon Justice

Book Review: Bourbon Justice

There are lots of bourbon books out there but none quite like Brian Haara’s Bourbon Justice. This history of America’s native spirit takes bourbon geeking to new heights, and I mean that in a good way. Plenty of books will give you a history of bourbon, recounting the many embellished stories and tall tales that have become a big part of the industry’s marketing. Still others deliver more of a product focus, with information about specific bottles and tasting notes. Bourbon Justice gives you all of that but filtered through the unique and surprisingly entertaining lens of litigation. Seriously.

I can feel your eyes rolling already, but stay with me here. Somehow detailing the history of bourbon through its various contributions to America’s legal history (and there are many) just works, and that’s a credit to bourbon and this book’s author. If you are a true bourbon geek, you probably already know that Colonel Taylor was a famous Kentucky distiller instrumental in the passage of one of our nation’s first consumer protection laws, the Bottled-in-Bond Act. That story features prominently in Haara’s work, but there are numerous others just like it that detail bourbon’s role in the establishment of trademark and brand name rights, truth in advertising regulations, and plenty more.

With any other subject, this book would probably seem like required reading for a college class you hated, but the colorful cast of characters throughout bourbon’s history, from Oscar Pepper to Bill Samuels to George T. Stagg, make it a surprising page turner. It also helps that Haara does a good job of not taking himself too seriously and lets the history speak for itself. If you carry the bourbon dork badge with pride, this book should definitely be on your shelf.


Bourbon Justice




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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